Jun 13
Her eye on the news
Foot in mouth

Uber held a huge company-wide meeting on Tuesday to address a corporate culture that has enabled numerous instances of alleged sexual harassment. Employees were informed of the recommendations made by an outside law firm after the completion of an investigation of the company’s culture led by Eric Holder. In a stunning display of irony, an Uber board member made a sexist joke — at a meeting where sexism was a chief topic.

The remark came after Uber board member Arianna Huffington announced the addition of another woman, Wan Ling Martello, to the company’s board of directors. Huffington’s board colleague David Bonderman decided that was the perfect time to trot out a sexist joke.

Huffington, in audio from the meeting leaked to Yahoo Finance, can be heard trying to smooth things over, but according to one report, people in the meeting were pissed — and rightly so. Bonderman later apologized, saying the remark was “inappropriate.”

Ya think, buddy?

Within hours of the ill-advised remark, Bonderman resigned from Uber’s board.

Read the full story at Recode.


Uber CEO takes leave of absence as recommendations of Holder investigation are made public

‘Wit’s end’

This past weekend, A Preferred Women’s Health Center located in Charlotte, North Carolina, was the site of the “Men for Life” prayer walk, an anti-abortion parade organized by Love Life Charlotte. The group, whose membership comprises a collection of local Christian churches, holds fast to their mission statement to “bring an end to abortion in Charlotte in 2017” through an approach that many would find counter-intuitive. Despite the fact that Roe v. Wade gave women the federal right to seek a safe, legal, abortion, Love Life Charlotte believes abortion is really “a man’s issue.”

“The truth is, this is more a man’s issue than a woman’s issue,” declared LLC’s founder Justin Reeder in a video advertisement for prayer walk, “Yes, one out of three women will have an abortion in their lifetime, but it’s also one out of three men. We forget about the men so often in this story.” Reeder — who believes that the root of the abortion problem lies with the men who are unwilling to take responsibility for their part in an unexpected pregnancy — led the parade of close to 600 people that included men, women, and children.

Beginning at 8:00am, LLC protesters sporting matching blue T-shirts, carrying signs and playing loud Christian music, gathered up the street from the clinic and made their way slowly to the center. Once they arrived, marchers joined in with regular protesters demonstrating in front of the clinic’s doors, sharing a communal microphone to shame clinic patients and employees.

“I’m at my wit’s end,” clinic administrator Calla Hales told The Huffington Post. As one of the busiest clinics in North Carolina, A Preferred Women’s Health Center is no stranger to protesters. Although tension between pro and anti-abortion groups has been mounting, the city seems to have little motivation to moderate.

Read the full story at The Huffington Post.


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When Australian website Mamamia interviewed best-selling author Roxane Gay last May to discuss her upcoming book, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, the experience did not go as planned. In a preface of the interview for the website’s No Filter podcast, Mamamia effectively “fat-shamed” the feminist author, posting many of Gay’s personal pre-interview requests online and breaching the terms of confidentiality.

“A lot of planning has to go into a visit from [the] best-selling author,” read the opening. “Will she fit into the office lift? How many steps will she have to take to get to the interview? Is there a comfortable chair that will accommodate her six-foot-three, ‘super-morbidly obese’ frame?” The details — which are decidedly invasive —  prompted a bevy of responses from Gay on Twitter who was understandably perturbed by the website’s portrayal of her.

Although the article was eventually taken down (the curious can read a copy of the original here), Mia Freedman, co-founder and creative director of Mamamia, initially defended the website’s choice to discuss Gay’s personal requirements. “I would never normally breach the confidence of what goes on behind the scenes while organizing an interview,” Freedman wrote, “but in this case, it’s a fundamental part of her story and what her book is about.”

While Freedman may have genuinely believed that over-sharing was intrinsic to discussing the author’s work, Gay’s readers were quick to point out that the honesty was brutal at best, tactless and hostile at worst. “I wanted to tell the story of my body, because when you’re fat in the world, people have assumptions,” Gay explained during an interview on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, “I think it’s important to show what it’s actually like to live in this world in a fat body.”

The Mamamia team has since released a public apology lamenting their actions and the mental distress that it caused Gay. “In no way did Mamamia ever intend to make Roxane Gay feel disrespected and we apologize unequivocally that that was the unintended consequence.”

Read the full story at The Huffington Post.


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Changes are afoot at the world’s most valuable startup. Embattled Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced on Tuesday that he is taking an indefinite leave of absence from his job to grieve the death of his mother, who was killed in a tragic accident in recent weeks. In a memo to employees, CNN reported, Kalanick wrote, “It’s hard to put a timeline on this — it may be shorter or longer than we might expect. Tragically losing a loved one has been difficult for me and I need to properly say my goodbyes.”

The move came the same day that the company informed employees of the recommendations made by a law firm following a months-long investigation, led by former Attorney General Eric Holder, of the corporate culture there. Uber commissioned the external probe, carried out by law firm Covington & Burling, in February after a former engineer, Susan Fowler, wrote a blog post detailing a culture rife with sexual harassment.

According to the probe, Covington and Burling has recommended the biggest changes to impact Kalanick. The law firm recommended that he delegate more of his duties to other company leaders. They also called for a more independent board of directors and clearer processes for escalating employee complaints through human resources, among other changes.

Last week, Uber fired 20 employees after another outside law firm completed a separate investigation of more than 200 claims of various workplace misconduct.

Below, read through Covington and Burling’s full recommendations made to Uber’s board last week and revealed to employees on Tuesday.

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Read the full story at CNN and Recode.


Women are underrepresented at Uber, company’s diversity report shows

Uber tells potential employee not to worry about discrimination because ‘sexism is systemic in tech’

Happy ending

After the Islamic state invaded the city of Qaraqosh, Iraq, in August 2014, local Christian populations were forced to flee for safety. Among the displaced was a young girl named Christina Ezzo Abada, who was traveling out of Islamic State territory with her mother when she was snatched by militants.

Reuters reports that Christina, now 6 years old, has been reunited with her parents, nearly three years after she was kidnapped. “The best day of my life is the day when Christina came back,” her mother, Aidah Nuh, told Reuters over the weekend.

The girl’s family has spent years trying to track Christina down, and last week, she was located in a run-down neighborhood of Mosul. Most of the city has fallen to Iraqi forces, following an eight-month, U.S.-backed offensive.

Christina’s parents went to a “dirty place” in the neighborhood and “took the child,” according to the girl’s father, Khader Touma.

The family is now living in a mobile home for displaced persons in a Christian suburb of Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Christina’s parents say they hope to emigrate, but for now, they are focused on acclimating their daughter to her new life.

“She stayed three years with the terrorists,” her mother said. “Of course she forgot who her mother is, who her father is, that we are her family, but she will learn again.” Watch video of the emotional reunion below.

Read the full story at Reuters.


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In the fall, Nataly Romero will join a new cohort of freshmen at U.C. Berkeley. Like all of the school’s students, she worked hard to get there. But Romero has faced more obstacles on the path to college than most.

As The Fresno Bee reports, Romero had a turbulent childhood. When she was just 3 years old, her father, an undocumented immigrant, was deported to Mexico and reportedly murdered there. Her mother and grandmother were deemed unfit to care for her, and Romero was taken into custody by Child Protective Services. She was eventually reunited with her mother, who by that time had a new husband — also an undocumented immigrant. When he was deported, Romero’s mother took her children to Mexico so they could live with their stepfather.

Romero was forced to start a new life in a strange country, but she was determined to return to the United States. At the age of 10, she started working as a caregiver for the elderly, and saved enough money to buy a plane ticket back to Tijuana. From there, she traveled by bus to Fresno — on her own, without any adult to help her and keep her safe.

With little support in the U.S., Romero was homeless and forced to live in a shelter. But she continued to maintain a 4.0 GPA, and was ultimately accepted into U.C. Berkeley. She will receive financial assistance to attend.

Romero graduated from high school last week. Just prior to graduation, the inspiring teen posted screen shots of her final report card, showing straight A’s. “Very proud of myself🤗,” she wrote.

When her new life at college begins, she will major in social work, so she can one day help other struggling young adults. “I intend to be there, to be an adult figure and guide them,” she told The Fresno Bee.

Read the full story at The Fresno Bee.


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Female medical school grads told to wear dresses with a ‘low neckline’ to commencement

94-year-old great-grandmother graduates college with perfect GPA

Miss Talavera Bruce

Brazil’s Talavera Bruce prison is located within the notorious, sprawling Bangu penitentiary complex. But this maximum-security facility is arguably best-known for a rather unusual feature: its annual inmate beauty pageant. Getty Images photographer Mario Tama was given inside access to the event in 2015 and posted about the experience on the photo agencies news blog recently.

The Miss Talavera Bruce contest, which is run by church and community groups, has been taking place for the past decade. Volunteers style the hair and makeup of 10 women, who compete in both formal and swimwear contests. Family members are allowed into the prison to watch their loved ones strut their stuff.

According to Tama, Brazil is home to the world’s fourth largest prison population, and the rate of female incarceration is on the rise. Between 2000 and 2014, the number of women held in Brazilian prisons skyrocketed 576 percent, according to the Ministry of Justice. Prison facilities in the country are overcrowded, which can lead to dire conditions for inmates.

The Miss Talavera Bruce contest seeks to restore the inmates’ humanity and sense of self-worth — if only for one joyful afternoon.

Read the full story at Getty Images.


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While promoting her upcoming Netflix series Glow, Alison Brie recounted an uncomfortable audition for the HBO series/brofest Entourage.

“Early in my career, I auditioned for three lines on an episode of Entourage that I had to go on in a bikini!” she said after a screening of Glow at the ATX Festival in Austin, Texas. “Or, like, shorts and the tiniest shorts. And they were like, ‘OK, can you take your top off now?’”

Following reports that Brie had been asked to go completely topless, the actress clarified on Twitter that this was not the case. “I had a bikini top on UNDER my top,” she wrote. “They didn’t ask me to get totally topless. Sorry to disappoint you!”

Regardless, her anecdote highlights the obstacles that women in Hollywood face as they strive to make a mark. Glow, in fact, explores a similar topic. The series centers on a struggling actress who finds an opportunity to reinvent herself when she takes a role on a schlocky women’s wrestling series.

Glow is set in the 1980s. And the audition process for women today, Brie said, “has not changed that much.”

Read the full story at Entertainment Weekly.


How many times can the ‘Entourage’ trailer disrespect women in 101 seconds?